When Dallas Smith brought his Some Things Never Change Tour to Budweiser Gardens on Thursday night, it felt more like an indoor festival than it did a one-off concert. The star-studded affair lasted nearly three hours and featured a plethora of talent.
Along with Smith, support acts James Barker Band, Shawn Austin and Manny Blu graced the stage beginning at 7pm, taking us to about 10:30pm. Smith was also joined by several guests on stage during his show, including JoJo Mason, an unannounced performance from Andrew Hyatt and a stellar performance from Kelly Prescott, who performed the duet One Too with Smith (originally recorded with MacKenzie Porter) and her latest hit Convertible.
Smith is an incredible performer who knows how to rev up an audience, and on this night, he took a full Start.ca Performance Stage crowd and made them sound like a full-sized arena. He had them singing all night long to country hits like Autograph, Wastin’ Gas, Lifted, Side Effects and a country version of his Default classic rock song Wasting My Time. Along with Smith staples, his show also included original songs from Mason, Prescott and Hyatt.
Although he’s only been in the country music game for about a decade, Smith has more accolades than many of his peers and his fans are rabid, like those of classic rock bands like KISS and Motley Crue – they want as much of Smith as they can get.
James Barker Band put on an incredible 12-song set, including hit Wastin’ Whiskey, as well as their four number one hit singles New Old Trucks, Over All Over Again, Keep It Simple and Chills. The Woodville, Ontario band was the real highlight of the tour and showed future stars in the making. Barker is an incredible frontman and a killer guitarist. He swings his guitar like a rock star and sings like a country God, making for an incredible show. This may be the last time fans will catch Barker and the boys as a support act.
Shawn Austin was a bit of a surprise. He wasn’t announced as a full show performer, but the Tailgate to Heaven singer was a welcomed with open arms. Austin has a slick voice and his latest EP Planes Don’t Wait is on the verge of getting released on the Big Loud label this week. His voice, which sounds like a cross between Garth Brooks and Johnny Reid, stands out from the rest of the show – there’s something wholesome and authentic about what he brought to the table.
Show opener Manny Blu performed what he described as country-punk. The bulky and multi-tattooed entertainer has had a great year, looks like a true punk rocker, but sings more like a classic stars Alan Jackson, Johnny Cash and George Strait all rolled into one. His music combines the lyric and vocal styles of country with heavy infused beats and sounds inspired by punk and rock. It’s a new music style that has a lot of potential and fans are eagerly awaiting to hear the results of his infusions.
All photos by Dan Savoie
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